How To Survive (and Enjoy) Other People

Life is with people.  Here are some things I've learned over the years about surviving and enjoying them.  I wrote this back in 2009 and since then it's gone viral a few times and been plagiarized a few more times than that.  I take it to mean that people find it useful, so here it is with a few changes as I've come to learn a few more things.  The original can be found over here (along with interviews I did with Gareth Icke and Matt Berry respectively):

25 Tips and Tricks For Dealing With Other People:

1.  Most people hide their suffering better than you think; you pass dozens of people a day on the street without any idea how well they're wearing their tragedies. 

2.  People's names are the sweetest sounds they hear.  You should make a point of being good at learning and using them.

3.  People love to spread their misery around, but not as much as they enjoy being lifted out of it.

4.  Being young is not in and of itself an achievement.  Neither is being beautiful.  But people often treat you as if they are.

5.  For a lot of people, music is a reflection of who they are and their relationship to life.  Remember that before insulting someone's tastes in music.

6.  The Golden Age never existed.  People are always trying to get back to a time when things were simpler and better.  The world was a far more dangerous place 50 years ago, especially if you were black or a woman or gay or diagnosed with cancer. 

7.  Most people, whatever their choice of profession, feel like complete novices who are about to be found out as frauds and fakers.

8.  Most people love quite helplessly, despite what they would have you believe.

9.  Show me the most beautiful woman in the world, and I'll show you a man who's bored with taking her to bed.  Show me the most devoted husband, and I'll show you a woman who feels that he's just not doing enough.  A lot of people are never satisfied because… 

10.  Most people have no idea what they want out of life, let alone how to get it.  Most others are still waiting for someone to give them permission.

11.  Whatever it is about yourself that you're trying to hide, it's usually the first thing someone else notices about you.

12.  You should call your mother and tell her you love her.  Like most women who decide to marry and have children or help take care of a dying parent, she probably sacrificed a lot of her dreams to be there for you, and she wishes that you appreciated her more for it. 

13.  If you tell a man about your problems, he assumes you want some sort of help or advice.  If you tell a woman about your problems, she assumes you simply want a shoulder to cry on.  Women rarely want to be told what to do about a problem, and men rarely want to be coddled through a hard time. 

14.  Creative people thrive on feedback.  You can never give them enough of it, and you will endear yourselves to them mightily if you do it frequently, thoughtfully, and honestly.  They understand the value of time far better than most think. 

15.  For most people religion is a social commitment more than a spiritual one.

16.  A lot of people who consider themselves intelligent can't properly label all the states on a map, or all the countries in Europe, let alone Africa or the Middle East.  Most couldn't list off the ten commandments, five pillars, or the amendments of the Constitution, and feel that politics are too complicated to understand, but never too complicated to argue about.

17.  It's not all about you.  No really.  Gossip, shaming, cheating and rejection are more often than not, unwitting autobiography.  Nothing wrong with putting down a book you're tired of reading.

18.  For nearly every crazy idea, you can find a fully credentialed scientist who will back it up.

19.  People are more frequently kind and compassionate than they are fooled by our manipulations or lies.

20.  Life often works in reverse.  People treat strangers more politely than their family or friends, and they always value your labor far less than the open market.  You can charge for your services or give them away for free and you can always walk away from diminishing returns.

21.  Everyone has done something they would be desperately embarrassed for anyone else to know about. 

22.  Never joke with a man about his sexual performance, and never joke with a woman about her appearance.  No matter how much they make fun of these things in themselves, never, never do it for them.  They may laugh along with you, but you've just driven a tiny needle into their brain.

23.  Most women get married because they want to have a wedding, most men get married because they are ready to settle down.  People expect a significant other to change their lives and make them happy, without any conception of how this change will take place.  It's sort of like assuming a college degree is going to guarantee you security in life without ever thinking of how this can be practically possible.  This is the "If you build it, they will come" approach to romance, and one out of every two times it ends in divorce.

24.  Most people are worried they're not having as much fun as they should be.  This usually makes men cheat and women nag.   

25.  When you insult or offend someone, always admit it and apologize promptly, even if it wasn't your intention or you had no idea.  It is always better to be a penitent villain than to appear so socially inept as to not recognize when you've hurt the people around you.  An evil genius is someone to bring to your side, a blundering fool is someone to keep as far away from you as possible.


Be safe out there.  Check all your mirrors before you change lanes.  Read the directions twice.  Use a step ladder.  Bend at the knees when you lift.  Throw out expired food.  Don't text and drive.  Don't take selfies near ledges or water's edges.  Slow down in inclement weather.  Wear a condom.  Get a AAA card.

Happy New Year!